CALIFORNIA: Stricken with cerebral palsy after almost being strangled in the womb by his umbilical cord, the 41-year-old Valley Village resident takes a few puffs of medical marijuana and immediately feels relief.
“Weed works,” he says simply.
The “Diablo Kush” and “Velvet Kush” strains from Reseda Discount Caregivers dispensary relax his stiffly contorted muscles and stave off the severe depression that prompted him to make several suicide attempts over the years, including cutting his wrists and injecting Drano and Raid into his veins.
The hunched figure eventually stands up straight and takes a few steps without a cane — all while cracking jokes — showing a glimpse of the bodybuilder and standup comic he used to be.
These days in California medical marijuana patients like Zee can more or less openly take their “medication.” But of course it wasn’t always so.
A century ago this year was when California first banned marijuana.
In fact, weed historian and legalization advocate Dale Gieringer pinpoints the key date to Aug. 10, 1913, when a new regulation quietly took effect from the state Board of Pharmacy that added “locoweed” to the state Poison Act.
“They began launching raids,” said Gieringer, California coordinator of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). “Law enforcement would pose as addicts who needed a fix but didn’t have a doctor’s note, then arrest the druggist.”
Before the early 1900s, though, weed had a relatively long legal history of highs and lows in the United States. Some historians believe the Jamestown settlers brought cannabis to the United States in 1611.
In the 1700’s, Gieringer said, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. By the 1800’s, he added, it was sold in certain drugstores, and touted as a cure for migraines and menstrual cramps by the doctor of Queen Victoria.